mon 22/07/2019

Visual Arts Reviews

Cathy Wilkes, British Pavilion, Venice Biennale review - poetic and personal

Katherine Waters

Dried flowers like offerings lie atop a gauze-covered rectangular frame. Pebbles surround its base alongside plaster casts, a desiccated dragonfly and an animal foot charm. Their placement is purposeful; their exact significance unclear. Four rib-high figures with moon faces, sausage string necks and wafer-thin bodies face the frame. Three wear golden gowns like devotees or disciples; all bear pendulous, darkly bellying stomachs before them over their clothes.

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Fetes and Kermesses in the Time of the Brueghels, Musée de Flandre review - all the fun of the fair

Mark Sheerin

Cassel in Flanders is surrounded by the gentle and verdant landscapes that inspired Pieter Bruegel the Elder to create the populous and festive scenes for which he is still known and loved, 450 years after his death. Now the small town is celebrating his celebrations with a show at the new Musée de Flandre dedicated to his country fairs and weddings.

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Henry Moore at Houghton Hall: Nature and Inspiration review - big views bring new light

Florence Hallett

Placed in a long and artfully Arcadian vista, earthy bronze subdued against verdant grass and trees, the restless form of Henry Moore’s Two Piece Reclining Figure: Cut, 1979-81 (Main picture), both disrupts and is absorbed by its surroundings.

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Stanley Kubrick: The Exhibition, Design Museum review - immersive detail

Tom Birchenough

Who would have known that the word “Kubrickian” only entered the Oxford English Dictionary last year? You’d have thought that one of the great film directors of the 20th century would have earned his own epithet long ago.

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Sorolla: Spanish Master of Light, National Gallery review - a national treasure comes to London

Marina Vaizey

The National Gallery is on a roll to expand ever further our understanding of western art, alternating blockbusters dedicated to familiar and bankable stars, with selections of work by lesser known figures from across the centuries.

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Who’s Afraid of Drawing? Works on Paper from the Ramo Collection, Estorick Collection review - surprising and rewarding

Katherine Waters

Paper is traditionally the medium though which artists think. Stray thoughts and experiments can be quickly tried out, pushed further or jettisoned. There are no penalties for starting something which goes wrong or transforms into something else because material is cheap, expendable. Erasure or high finish are equally likely, dead ends and new directions begin in the same place.

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Sea Star: Sean Scully, National Gallery review - analysing past masters

Florence Hallett

Either side of a doorway, framing a view of Turner’s The Evening Star, c. 1830 (Main picture), Sean Scully’s Landline Star, 2017, and Landline Pool, 2018,  frankly acknowledge their roots.

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Visions of the Self: Rembrandt and Now, Gagosian Gallery review - old master, new ways

Florence Hallett

What are we to make of the two circles dustily inscribed in the background of Rembrandt’s c.1665 self-portrait? In a painting that bears the fruits of a life’s experience, drawn freehand, they might be a display of artistic virtuosity, or – more convincing were they unbroken – symbolise eternity.

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Edvard Munch: Love and Angst, British Museum review - compassion in the age of anxiety

Florence Hallett

Munch’s The Scream is as piercing as it has ever been, and its silence does nothing to lessen its viscerally devastating effect. It was painted in 1893, but it was a lithograph produced two years later – now the star of the biggest UK exhibition of Munch’s prints for a generation – that would make it famous.

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Mary Quant, Victoria & Albert Museum review - quantities of Quant

Katherine Waters

Mary Quant first made her name in 1955 with the wildly fashionable King’s Road boutique Bazaar. Initially selling a “bouillabaisse” of stock it was not until a pair of pyjamas she made was bought by an American who said he’d copy and mass produce them that Quant began dedicating herself to her own designs.

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